When you bring a wild steelhead to hand, it’s up to you to take care of that fish until it’s rested and ready to continue on its long journey. There are dos and don’ts to make sure fish are treated properly.
- Haul the fish into your boat with a net and set it down in the bottom of the boat. Fish flopping against hard surfaces beat themselves up just like they do on land.
- Beach a wild fish for the same reason you don’t lay it in the boat. A flailing fish is in trouble.
- Stick your fingers in its gills. Don’t lip steelhead; they’re not bass.
- Get into knee-deep water and tail the fish when it comes near. It may take a couple of tries and you don’t need a glove, which removes protective slime from the fish’s skin.
- Support a fish’s body (not in its gills) and hold the tail while you rest it before releasing. If you’re taking a photo, keep the fish in the water and only lift for a few seconds if you must.
- Handle them carefully and let them go when they show signs that they’ve regained their strength.
For more detail on what to do with beautiful wild steelhead once you’ve brought them close, check out our post on landing big fish.